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Two cruise ships steam towards camera. A small island just visible on the left

COVID19: On April 21 the 1st cruise ship is due at the Port of Halifax. What’s the plan?

PortandTerminal.com, March 3, 2020

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – Yesterday Virgin Cruise Line’s first vessel, Scarlet Lady, decided to skip a planned visit to New York City.

While they didn’t come right and say it, they made it clear that concerns over coronavirus were the reason for their decision. It’s no coincidence that on Sunday Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo confirmed the first case of coronavirus in New York city.

“In light of the current news headlines, we want to ensure everyone feels it is the right time to celebrate with us,”

Virgin Cruise Lines statement

Two other ports on the Atlantic coast of North America are now anxiously counting down the days to the kick-off of their own cruise seasons – Halifax and Boston. In Part 1 of this 2 part series, we’ll look at what the Port of Halifax is doing to ready itself for its first cruise ship visitors arriving on April 21st. Tomorrow in Part 2 we’ll look at the Port of Boston.

Port of Halifax

Cruise ship steaming toward camera. Name Norwegian Star visible on starboard bow.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Star is scheduled to call on the Port of Halifax on April 21, 2020

The first cruise ship scheduled to call on Halifax this season is the Norwegian Star due on April 21st. The vessel carries up to 2,348 guests and 1,031 crew at full capacity according to Norwegian Cruise Lines’ (NCL) website.

The company has posted a set of guidelines on how it is handling the spreading virus. Measures include not allowing any passengers or crew on board who have travelled, transited or visited China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Iran, or any municipality in Italy under a quarantine order by the Italian Government. Click here to read a full list of NCL’s coronavirus guidelines.

PortandTerminal.com contacted Lane Farguson, spokesperson for the Port of Halifax to hear what the port is doing to ready for the upcoming cruise season. The following is his statement.

Aerial shot of the port of halifax showing 3 cruise ships docked and George's Island visible in the photo
Halifax, Nova Scotia – From April 11 to November 3, the Port of Halifax is expecting 203 vessel calls carrying approximately 350,000 cruise guests. 

We at the Halifax Port Authority are closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and as you know, it is evolving daily. We have been in contact with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Transport Canada for several weeks now. At this point, there are no operational changes. We take our direction from the Public Health Agency of Canada and will act appropriately as the situation continues to evolve.

No matter where Canadians plan to travel, the Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that they consult https://travel.gc.ca/, which is the Government of Canada’s official source of destination specific travel information. It provides important advice to help travellers make informed decisions and travel safely while abroad. Canadians are also encouraged to review cruise ships’ policies and protocols to make informed travel decisions based on their circumstances.

The cruise season is an important part of the local economy in Halifax and 2020 was promising to be an exceptionally good year. From April 11 to November 3, the Port of Halifax is expecting 203 vessel calls carrying approximately 350,000 cruise guests. That’s now at risk.

To make things worse, the local economy has already been hit hard by coronavirus’ impact on its exports to China of lobsters, an industry worth $US 570 million (2018) to the province.

READ: Lobster fishermen shocked by COVID19 as Chinese stop buying

As of today, there are no known cases of COVID-19, or coronavirus, in Halifax, but city residents are on edge.

Halifax residents start stock-piling essentials as coronavirus worries hit the Atlantic coast

Surgical M95 masks have been sold out for two weeks and pharmacies have no idea if and when they may receive new supplies. School boards have advised parents of precautions to take as they get ready for the upcoming March break.

Next, in Part 2 of this series, we’ll look at the Port of Boston which kicks off its 2020 Cruise Season on April 8th.

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